Central Valley Immigrants Reveal How Essential They Are to Our Nation
FRESNO, CA, January 23, 2021 /24-7PressRelease/ — The Central Valley Immigrant Integration Collaborative (CVIIC) endorses renewed efforts to make the inclusion of immigrants a national priority.
“It is in the best interests of Americans to once again embrace and celebrate our legacy as a nation of immigrants. It is time to prioritize policies favoring immigrant inclusion,” stated Jesus Martinez, Executive Director of the Central Valley Immigrant Integration Collaborative (CVIIC).
He added: “Every day, we see in California’s Central Valley how older and newer immigrant communities enrich our economy, society, culture and democracy. Many of our immigrant neighbors are elected officials, notable business owners, or essential workers. Immigrants in the Central Valley feed our nation and the world. They revitalize our labor force and strengthen the competitiveness of our national economy with their hard work and entrepreneurial innovations. Adopting federal, state and local policies that promote their inclusion will only augment their contributions and accelerate the process of economic recovery.”
“It is time,” he asserted, “for our federal authorities to move forward with comprehensive immigration reform, to provide DACA recipients a pathway to citizenship, and to recognize farmworkers as essential members of our labor force. It is time for the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services agency to reduce the serious application backlogs that currently exist, process naturalization and other applications in a timely manner, and make application fees affordable. The federal government can also work with communities and entities, such as the Welcoming America national network, to support, help develop, and implement local-level welcoming policies.”
California’s Central Valley is the nation’s leading agricultural region. In 2018 agricultural production from its 8 counties (Kern, Kings, Tulare, Fresno, Madera, Merced, Stanislaus and San Joaquin) had a value of $34.6 billion, according to the California Department of Food and Agriculture.
It is also home to some 900,000 immigrants and over half a million children with at least one immigrant parent. Nearly 300,000 of the foreign-born are naturalized citizens, over a quarter of a million have permanent residence or other documented status, and some 331,584 are undocumented.
Central Valley immigrants are long-term residents: naturalized immigrants have been living in the United States for an average of 28 years, permanent residents for an average of 22 years, while undocumented immigrants have resided here for more than 10 years.
While immigrants constitute the backbone of the regional agricultural economy, they are also essential in other industries, including retail trade, manufacturing, construction and wholesale trade.
Moreover, their role as business owners is impressive and can grow significantly more. Only 10% of Central Valley residents who are U.S.-born are self-employed, whereas 13% of naturalized immigrants fall in this category, as well as 10% of documented non-citizens immigrants and 6% of undocumented adults.
“Despite the region’s wealth, there is also social inequality and levels of poverty that are among the highest in the nation. Hence, immigration policies that are adopted by federal, state or local governments must take this into consideration to ensure that these actually benefit immigrant families in the Central Valley,” emphasized Martinez.
CVIIC was established in Fresno, California in February 2014 to empower immigrants and immigrant serving organizations. Over the years it has developed a model of regional collaboration that brings together community-based organizations, nonprofit legal services providers, pro bono attorneys, media partners, public sector agencies, health advocates and others. Strategic priorities include the enhancement of regional organizational capacity, engagement in advocacy efforts, and the delivery of information and services to rural and urban families. It empowers immigrants by providing access to immigration legal services, promoting health related community education and coverage, participation in the 2020 Census, and the establishment of an innovative immigrant entrepreneurship project.
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